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Nothing to See Here, Don’t Move Along Without Wondering Why April 20, 2010

Posted by Jim Satterfield in bad news, Climate Change.
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There are people who call themselves skeptics. They attempt to say that they are the ones wanting “sound science”. According to these people there is no such thing as global warming or climate change, take your pick on the terminology. Since there is no such thing as global warming the seas can’t be rising. Sure. Right.

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Yes, AGW has Consequences August 8, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Science, Science & Society.
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One of the things you’ll hear repeated all too often by those who deny the existence of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming), or “man-made” global warming is “Even if it is true, so what? What’s so bad about things being a little warmer?”. Well, here’s yet another bad thing about it. It just isn’t true that if the planet warms up a bit that it’s just going to give us warmer days in winter. Droughts. Floods. Storms. Extreme weather events will be more extreme and possibly more common. You’ll even see more snow in some places. That’s why the interior of Antarctica is seeing more snow and ice. But the coastal regions are another story entirely. It’s not all simple. It’s not all intuitive. But does have the potential to get really ugly in terms of how it will affect the human race.

Aircraft Fuel Efficiency February 17, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Technology.
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Snow day today, so to speak. Sipping coffee and reading the February issue of Popular Science. It has lots of stuff about airline fuel consumption and the search for more fuel efficiency and alternative fuels that would work for aircraft, an entirely different proposition than fuel for cars. One thing that struck me is a sidebar about the Boeing X-48B blended wing aircraft design that can be 23% more fuel efficient and why it won’t ever be a commercial passenger liner. Simply put, no one wants to fly in a passenger plane that doesn’t have windows in the passenger compartment and readily available emergency exits. Sort of reasonable. So current plans call for only military versions of the plane. But then I wondered just how many planes UPS, FedEx and other dedicated air freight carriers use. Aren’t there enough of them to form a fairly hefty niche by themselves? And if you’re building the craft for the military you should have the capability in place to build a civilian version even if it’s not going to the passenger carriers, shouldn’t you?

Here He Goes Again (Updated) February 16, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Government, The Bush Administration.
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While it’s true that we’re only stuck with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania for another 11 months or so he hasn’t lost his ability to annoy. The amount of “say one thing and do another” that George W. Bush accomplishes is truly amazing. Here is a section this year’s SOTU.

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. (Applause.) Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. (Applause.) Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. (Applause.) Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future. (Applause.) Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.

OTOH, here’s an analysis of what he actually proposed in the FY 2009 budget for energy. And then of course the funding for FutureGen was pulled with the only replacement being nothing but vague proposals. I’ll be so glad when Dubya’s gone. But the cleanup from the disaster that has been the Bush Administration will be long and difficult.

 Minor update: Just after I wrote this I ran across a Washington Post editorial about the funding cut for FutureGen.

Plan B is the Better Option Sometimes January 5, 2008

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment.
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Time Magazine reports on Lester Brown’s Plan B, an ambitious set of actions to be taken to attempt to control global warming. There’s lots to it and it would cost $190 billion a year. That amount is what would be spent globally, not just by the U.S. Sounds like a huge amount of money, doesn’t it? Of course the global annual military budget is $1.2 trillion, just to put some perspective on it. And the $190 billion has the potential to save us a lot more by mitigating effects of global warming that could cost a lot more.

A deal, a deal, they finally made a deal! Big whoop. December 1, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Business & Society, Climate Change, Environment, Government, Politics, Technology.
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Congress finally passed a compromise bill affecting auto mileage standards. Notice the finally part of that. Also notice that it was passed in spite of the automobile companies continued resistance. When you see the ads they run pretending to give a damn about the environment and mileage remember that. Also, when they say that it just isn’t technically feasible keep this guy in mind. It’s true that his full blown rebuilds aren’t economically feasible for anyone but the wealthy and that their cost would never be recovered in fuel savings. But it is also true that it puts the lie to the claims that there is no technology that exists to reduce mileage as drastically as we really need.

 Then there’s the research at MIT that would produce an engine that while more expensive than current ones would be much less expensive than hybrids. What I wondered about when reading this was whether in their savings calculations they accounted for the reduced weight of the smaller engine and reduction in supports needed for it in determining what it would do for gas mileage.

When it comes to innovations that would allow even further divergence from the old gas engine standard there’s the in-wheel motor that has different companies creating their own versions of it including Bridgestone, Mitsubishi and PML.

There’s lots of tech out there to do what Detroit is saying can’t be done. They apparently just don’t want to put forth the effort. There might be what they view as good reasons for doing it given their current financial problems but looking solely at the short term will do nothing to help guarantee their long term existence. Now in my opinion if there was a technology that was proven to produce major fuel efficiency improvements and they just couldn’t feasibly afford to retrofit their factories to produce it I wouldn’t have a problem with the government subsidizing that retrofit so long as the accounting was transparent. It would just do too much good for our country to not do so.

Blades are often double edged October 25, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment.
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An article in New Scientist is about a new study that says that the climate change models can just never be good enough to provide a precise prediction of how greenhouse gases will warm the earth. There are many other points of course, but a very cogent one is simply that those who oppose the idea of the existence of AGW and thereby the idea of government or industry putting forth any effort to do something about it will seize upon this study in order to boost their position.

But if you find yourself nodding in agreement with this idea because maybe, just maybe if this study is right it means that the effort could be better used towards other things as Bjorn Lomborg says we should do there are other things to consider. What you’ll never hear from the climate change skeptics, as they call themselves, is that the models could be wrong the other way as well. There is nothing in this study that shows that possible inaccuracies will only go one way. Things could be worse than the models predict. Given that they know it’s on the edge and unpredictable in terms of possible effects models don’t include things like methane releases from the thawing bogs of Siberia. They don’t include what could happen if the methane clathrate frozen in the ocean did thaw and release their potentially huge amounts of methane, that extremely effective greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Look both ways before crossing the street. Check both sides of sharp implements. Don’t be too accepting of arguments that if the climate models aren’t accurate it means that things will be better.

Move Along. Nothing to see here. October 25, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Science, Science & Society, Science & the Media.
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Global warming brings spring earlier in the year. There are those in the world who say that this must surely be a blessing. Well, maybe not so much. As this article on CNN points out, an earlier spring means a longer fire season in the American west. You know, that place that’s burning right now? Don’t worry, though, folks, Bjorn Lomborg has reassured us that there are worries much more pressing than global warming.

Well, they won’t all be gone. September 8, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Good news and bad news, What a Century!.
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Not right away, at least. Well, not in the next 50 years or so. As we warm up the planet and melt the polar ice caps the current estimate is that by 2050 two thirds of the polar bears will be wiped out. Only two thirds of them. Gee, what might we accomplish by the end of the century?

To be completely honest, as sad as it might be, we can’t stop this from happening. But maybe, just maybe, if we can get started now doing not something but all of the somethings that it will take to solve the problem that humanity has created a few generations down the road if we can keep the species going in zoos and other types of preserves the population can be rebuilt. We can hope, can’t we?

Good News, Bad News September 2, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Climate Change, Environment, Science.
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A new climate model with an ability to account for the effect of updrafts indicates that while there would be fewer storms, those that do successfully form would be more intense making them more likely to cause damage. It’s not definitive yet, but it does add to a building body of evidence that global warming isn’t simply going to be about the temperature being a bit more uncomfortable.